Work has started at Hitchin Museum, on taking down the Hertfordshire Yeomanry Displays, and selecting what material we will be showing in the new North Hertfordshire Museum. We are very lucky to have Col John Sainsbury assisting us in this task.
The top photograph shows the Full Dress Tunic of Sergeant Thomas Taylor. Below that is a very poignant item; a handmade set of dominoes made in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp in Thailand in 1945. Other gems include a flag captured from the Ottoman army after the seige of Tyre in 1918 and an early twentieth century regimental drum. We are trying to make sure that the new displays represent all the ranks of the army, not just the officers, and to tell personal stories as well as the overall history of the Yeomanry.
On 27 March, eight of us plus David Sims went by minibus to visit the National Football Museum in Manchester, all funded by our football grant.
The museum was originally based in Preston, and opened in its glossy new town centre home last year. First of all we were shown round by Laura, a lovely enthusiastic member of their front-of-house team. After a pie and mash lunch, Laura plus their Education Officer and Sally, the Curator, spent most of the afternoon with us, explaining how they had had to move all the objects from Preston, how they thought of the different themes for the new displays, and gave useful tips on working with museum designers.
It was great to see the enthusiasm of all the staff for their museum, even those who hadn’t really known much about football before working there. We hope to continue the relationship, lending them items from our Football Collection and taking back some loaned items when the new museum opens.
Over the Easter weekend, I visited the Cotswolds to enjoy a break in the English countryside. It was rather chillier than might be expected at this time of year, but the surroundings did not disappoint. One of the particular attractions of the Cotswolds is that there are many villages and churches where the work of Arts & Crafts Movement designers can be seen, and one of these artists was of particular interest.
Although this plaque is found in the main street of Chipping Campden, where the artist spent over 30 years of his life, Griggs was born on 30 October 1876 in Hitchin and concentrated on his hometown and surroundings in his early work.
Griggs trained as an architectural craftsman. He had studied at the Slade School of Art and worked for two years in the architectural office of C.E. Mallows, the architectural draughtsman. He may be best known, however, for his illustrations in the Highways and Byways Series of Books, published by Macmillan between 1902 and 1918. Some of these illustrations are part of the North Herts Museum collection
Griggs settled in Chipping Campden in 1903 in Dover House, where the Guild of Handicrafts had already been established by C.R. Ashbee. He went on to design an Arts and Crafts house at ‘New Dover’s House’ and set up the Dover’s House Press there, where he printed late proofs of the etchings of Samuel Palmer and his own work.
He had converted to Catholicism in 1912, and it is thought that this is when he adopted the name Maur as a baptismal name, after the Benedictine St Maur. At around this time he also took up etching with passion, becoming a leader in the British etching revival. He was inspired by the work of Samuel Palmer and William Blake, and liked to use his etchings to capture an ideal of unspoilt England. He died 7 June 1938. A centenary exhibition of his work was held at Hitchin Museum in 1976.
We hope that we will be able to display some of the drawings, etchings and photographs by F L Griggs at the new museum so that his work can be appreciated and enjoyed by a new audience.